The American right has been criticizing President Obama for not interjecting himself into the Iranian elections. They say he should show support for Mir Hussein Moussavi’s bid to become president, bolstering democratic forces in the Middle East, and thereby acknowledging President Bush’s “freedom agenda.”
But Obama, always taking the long view, knows that to do so would only enflame the supporters of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Robert Kagan takes it one step further, He claims in a Washington Post op-ed today that Obama is siding with Ahmadinejad. He claims that Obama is being silent because he wants to convince the Iranian mullahs that he does not embrace “regime change.”
If you find all this disturbing, you should. The worst thing is that this approach will probably not prevent the Iranians from getting a nuclear weapon. But this is what "realism" is all about. It is what sent Brent Scowcroft to raise a champagne toast to China’s leaders in the wake of Tiananmen Square. It is what convinced Gerald Ford not to meet with Alexander Solzhenitsyn at the height of detente. Republicans have traditionally been better at it than Democrats — though they have rarely been rewarded by the American people at the ballot box, as Ford and George H.W. Bush can attest.
You’ve got to wonder at times, if neocons like Kagan would prefer Obama attack the current leaders of Iran, just so they would, in turn, escalate the rhetoric so as to bolter the neocon’s contention that the only way to deal with them is to bomb them into oblivion.
Tom Friedman suggests they aren’t the only ones who would prefer an Ahmadinejad victory
Israel was taken by surprise by events in Lebanon and Iran. And Israeli officials have been saying they would much prefer that Ahmadinejad still wins in Iran — not because Israelis really prefer him but because they believe his thuggish, anti-Semitic behavior reflects the true and immutable character of the Iranian regime. And Israelis fear that if a moderate were to take over, it would not herald any real change in Iran, or its nuclear ambitions, but simply disguise it better.
Let’s hope Obama continues to resist the bait.
UPDATE: It was just a matter of time before the neocons got their wish.